Sexual side effects may occur in 40% to 70% of patients treated with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and is a common reason for poor compliance with treatment and eventual discontinuation. When sexual side effects occur, they tend to emerge early, are persistent, and rarely resolve spontaneously.  A new study, reviewed in Medscape, suggests that exercise may help to reduce sexual side effects:

Investigators at the University of Texas at Austin found that a brief, moderate strength and cardiovascular exercise regimen preceding sexual activity was associated with improvement in sexual desire and significantly improved sexual functioning in women with more severe sexual dysfunction related to antidepressants.

Another study suggests that acupuncture may be helpful in this setting.  Among subjects receiving acupuncture for 12 consecutive weeks, significant improvement was seen in male participants in all areas of sexual functioning, as well as improvement in both anxiety and depressive symptoms. Female participants reported a significant improvement in libido and lubrication and a non-significant trend toward improvement in several other areas of functioning.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Khamba B, Aucoin M, Lytle M, et al. Efficacy of acupuncture treatment of sexual dysfunction secondary to antidepressants.J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Nov;19(11):862-9.

Lorenz TA, Meston, CM. Exercise improves sexual function in women taking antidepressants: Results from a randomized cross-over trial.  Depress Anxiety. 2013 Nov.